2 August 2017

Zimbabwe: Workers, Residents Cry Foul Over City Quarry Plans

Workers and residents have condemned plans by Harare City Council to create a board of directors to run the Crusher Station, a quarry mining venture in the capital, amid fears that the City Fathers could run-down the business. Workers and residents' representatives yesterday raised fears that council was trying to create a company that could be used to siphon money for private use.

Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme confirmed the creation of the board to run operations at the Crusher Station, with council raising $4 million to capitalise the mine.

"Council resolved that the quarry should operate as a Strategic Business Unit reporting to the town clerk. Council has since secured something for the SBU," he said.

However, Harare Municipality Workers Association Mr Cosmas Bungu said employees were convinced that there was no need for council to set up the board.

"That quarry mine is of major importance to the residents of Harare and the country because the material from the quarry can change the people's lives in Harare.

"Even when we look at the roads in Harare, the materials to use in repairing the roads and surfacing others comes from the Crusher Station," he said.

Mr Bungu said more materials can be derived from the quarry's production line including building materials, pavements and pavers.

"We are worried by reports that council wants to set up a board to run that station. We are saying no to such moves because that is a waste of time and resources," he said.

The workers' representative said council can run the station through the acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube and a mine manager supported by the necessary structures.

"That plant can operate 24/7 with periodical maintenance like any other mining operations across Zimbabwe. So the developments at the Crusher Station are worrying," he said.

Council, Mr Bungu said, can realise at least $30 million per month.

"There are other companies that run similar operations and are making a killing. We have a vision to become World Class City by 2025, so we should take advantage of some of the natural resources and materials at our disposal," he said.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere assured council that Government would guarantee any loans for equipment at the mine.

"If you look at it, some cities and towns which are currently repairing or constructing their roads get their material from the same place. And if we properly utilise the Crusher Station, it will make money for City of Harare.

"But how can you have two boards running one operation? That we have a board called City of Harare, the councillors and executive management, then you want to create another board on top of the first one.

"There are genuine fears that they might try to push it out of the City of Harare when they fail to run it," he said.

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba also condemned moves to set up the board at the quarry mine.

"The City of Harare does not need to set up another board to run the Crusher Station. Council already has an Environment Management Committee made up of elected councillors and officials from the Department of Works provide technical support.

"The setting up of a board creates unnecessary bureaucracy and will also create another way of looting council funds like what is happening with the other boards set up as Strategic Business Units," he said.

Mr Shumba said the boards have failed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the council's operations.

"Instead, these boards have significantly contributed to the opaqueness of council operations.

"There is no transparency in their governance, and there is no accountability, which makes them places of massive financial irregularities, including unauthorised expenditures," he said.

Mr Shumba said the quarry mine belonged to ratepayers and cannot be privatised.

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